Great Britain U20 defenceman Ollie Stone has signed for MK Thunder as Lewis Clifford’s fifth squad member for the 2018-19 NIHL South 1 season.
“I’m really happy to be able to bring Ollie to MK,” Clifford said. “As with players I have already spoken about this off season, he fits our mould — young, talented and keen to progress and better himself.
“He will be an asset to us this season and has a great chance here to show the league what he’s capable of.”
The 5-foot-10 defensive specialist comes to Milton Keynes having spent the first four years of his professional career with Swindon Wildcats in NIHL, NIHL 2, and the English Premier League.
“I’ve played in Swindon my whole life and I wanted to get away for a bit and have some new experiences, and I felt MK was the perfect place to do that,” Stone said.
“I was really impressed with how well the (Thunder) team battled against us last year. I’ve also had Lewis as a coach in the past for conference and I know that he is a great coach so when we spoke about me coming to MK it was an easy yes.”
Clifford and Stone linked up at the back end of the youth international’s junior career for the annual EIHA conference tournament where the MKT head coach twice took charge of Stone’s South West team at U17 level.
Stone’s youth career only officially ended this past season with his final year of eligibility for junior international recognition.
“Being a part of the GB program was an amazing experience for me.” Stone said. “I was lucky enough to win three bronze medals in a GB shirt and that truly is an experience like no other.
“I think being a part of that really helped me improve and progress as a player moving up in to senior hockey.”
Stone spent his developing years with Swindon and Okanagen before beginning his senior career with the hometown Wildcats in 2014. For most of the journey, he was teammates with now-teammate-again Michael Stratford.
“I obviously know Stratty very well,” Stone said. “We played juniors together for a long time and we played for GB together in Estonia and France.”
Stone featured 50 times for the Wildcats last season as they reached the playoffs semifinals and collected both national cup competitions.
With two winners medals in his locker from last season, the new MKT number 4 is keen to pick up where he left off in 2017-18 once he hits the ice with his new teammates.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with some new people and playing some different roles to the ones I have played in the past,” he said. “I think that will help me improve even further and I think Lewis is going to help me improve further.
“As for the rink, what more could you want. It’s amazing venue that has been one of my favourites to play in for the past few years and now it’s going to be my home rink.”
Clifford is very much looking forward to working together once again with the talented homegrown D-man.
“I coached Ollie as a youngster in the South West system and even at that young age I could tell he was a very mature kid who thought his way round the ice well and understood the game,” Clifford said.
“Moving forward several years I’ve seen him perform in both the EPL and NIHL and I know he has a lot to bring to the table and given opportunities he can become a stand out British defenceman.
“Ollie has picked up a lot of experience in his short career and I have no doubt he will bring parts from all of his teams here to MK to help our team and develop his game.
“I think the fans will love Ollie, he is a good skater and moves the puck well, he will log big minutes for us and I know he won’t ever give less than 100 percent.”
Stone is keen to bring the experience from playing at medal-winning level with the Wildcats and Great Britain and is focused on the successes ahead in Milton Keynes.
“I’ve played against some very good teams with Swindon, against some very good players over the past few years and I’ve had some this good memories doing so,” Stone said. “Now it’s time to make some memories here in MK.”
Both Ollie’s home and away jerseys are now available to sponsor on our 2018-19 Own and Loan scheme. Prices are set at £125 per jersey, or £200 for both home and away shirts. Email email@example.com to express your interest.